Dear Daisy Dog
We adopted Harley, our only dog, in May. Throughout the summer, she hiked, swam and played with the kids. Now that they (and I, a teacher) are returning to school, I’m afraid Harley will be lonely. What can we do to help her adjust?
I live in a family of four dogs, so when my people leave home, I’m not alone. If the “pack” is as important to Harley as it is to me, she’ll appreciate your adopting another dog -– or even a cat or two -– to keep her company when you’re away.
If another pet isn’t possible, make a gradual transition from summer to fall. Leave Harley home alone for short periods of time each day for the remainder of the summer.
Turn on the television or radio, and provide a variety of toys.
Don’t make a fuss when you leave or return. If she gets excited when you arrive home, ignore her until she’s calm.
If she gets upset when you depart, practice leaving many times each day, until she no longer reacts. Pick up your keys, and have the children join you in leaving the house for a few minutes. If Harley whines or barks, wait until she’s quiet before you return.
Fit Harley with a dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) collar, or plug in some DAP diffusers around your home. DAP is a natural chemical that relaxes us dogs.
Gradually accustom her to fewer daytime potty breaks, so her bladder will be ready for longer days alone. Alternatively, hire a pet sitter to visit each day, so she has the opportunity to go outside.
If she barks, eliminates in the house or becomes destructive while you’re away, she may be experiencing separation anxiety. Talk with your veterinarian about medication, such as Reconcile or Clomicalm.
These ideas are bound to work, but if they don’t, then drop Harley off at doggy daycare on your way to school. She’ll have plenty of fun and be ready to relax with the rest of the family when evening comes.